Network Rail has awarded a contract to Hyder Consulting to cover the first three stages of a process to transform Manchester's Victoria railway station.
Hyder has subsequently appointed BDP as architects to deliver the project, aimed to be complete by December 2014.
Jo Kaye, Network Rail's route director, said: "Manchester relies on rail and the go-ahead for this vital project underlines Network Rail's commitment to improving Manchester Victoria. Awarding this contract is the confirmation that everyone wants – funds are secure and the work will happen.
"Over the next four years, the station will undergo a complete makeover that will make it a key point of entry to a part of the city that has undergone a renaissance in recent years."
The project is being jointly funded by Network Rail, which is contributing £16m, Manchester City Council, £5m, and Greater Manchester Integrated Transport Authority, £4m.
Although the funding is £5m less than was previously available, Network Rail believes it can deliver a value for money project that will meet previous aspirations.
Network Rail lost funding following the scrapping of the Better Stations programme by the Government, which was set up by Adonis, in order to save costs.
Sir Richard Leese, leader of Manchester City Council said: "The restoration of Victoria Station will contribute greatly to the continued regeneration of this area of the city, delivering both economic and environmental benefits.
Cllr Ian Macdonald, chair of GMITA, added: "The investment allied to this is crucial, not least because of the increase in passengers that new Metrolink lines will bring, but also long overdue, so it is fantastic news that we can now, at long last, take this step towards providing a true landmark facility and gateway to the city for the thousands of passengers who already use it every day. I look forward to the final scheme being developed."
Network Rail said that the contract will define the output and scope of the project, and its ultimate aims. Network Rail added that the Hyder will look at the constraints and boundaries that may limit options, will work up all the options available and assess the most suitable to be developed and taken forward.
The work is expected to be completed during March next year.
Work involves creating a new roof, covering just over 67,000 sq ft, for the station and Network Rail is considering using a roofing system similar to that at Piccadilly station known as ETFE, which means the entire station will be flooded with natural light.
Other facilities being considered includes:
- A glazed screen between platforms and concourse to improve the concourse environment and provide protection from the weather, similar to Piccadilly station and glazed station entrance doors
- Possible relocation of the ticket office and provision of a centrally located travel centre
- Work to protect the heritage features of the station such as the external façade and canopy, the war memorials, the dome roof in the café, and the station mosaics
- Potential for improved and additional retail facilities
- Provision for step-free access to the arena, and additional Metrolink platforms, if required in the future
Network Rail said it will work closely with its funding partners and other organisations such as Northern Rail, English Heritage and the Railway Heritage Trust to complete the project.